If you’ve ever suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome then you won’t need telling just how unpleasant it can be. The thought of someone lying in bed unable to sleep because they can’t keep their legs still has undoubtedly been regarded as a slightly comic concept in the past, but the reality is that the syndrome can have a hugely detrimental effect upon those afflicted by it.
As well as the compulsion to move the legs, a compulsion which is so strong that patients describe being utterly unable to keep them still, the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome also include aches and pains in the parts of the leg which are afflicted as well as, in many cases, a disturbing tingling and ‘creeping’ sensation. Patients describe this unpleasant sensation as feeling like they have insects crawling over their skin, or are acutely aware of the blood moving inside their legs, and the collection of symptoms, taken as a whole, can be highly disruptive to the life of the person affected.
It is estimated that as many as 1 in 10 of the population might be impacted by Restless Leg Syndrome at some point in their life, with the majority of sufferers being women in their 50’s. Although it can make itself apparent at any time of the day it is far more likely to strike when a person is trying to get to sleep, and it is this aspect of the syndrome, as much as any other, which deepens the detrimental impact. As well as leaving the person concerned feeling exhausted and unable to get on with their life, a lack of sleep has also been linked with serious health risks such as obesity and diabetes, which merely serves to underline the urgency with which Restless Leg Syndrome should be treated.
Although there is no single agreed cause for Restless Leg Syndrome, your doctor will examine your general health and, via a process of elimination, will determine exactly what might be causing the syndrome to present. In some cases it can be as simple as a vitamin deficiency, such as a lack of iron, and the treatment may consist of supplements or simply a change in diet. Other underlying conditions which have been linked to Restless Leg Syndrome include diabetes or problems with the thyroid, both of which can be diagnosed and treated with relative ease.
Some doctors feel there is a link between Restless leg Syndrome and the presence in the brain of a natural chemical known as dopamine, which helps to control muscle movements. If this is diagnosed then strong medication will be prescribed, although the side effects – such as drowsiness and nausea – may make some patients reluctant to access this treatment in the long term.
Another possible cause, and one which is simpler to treat than it’s ever been, is the presence in the legs of varicose veins. Varicose veins, also known as venous reflux, are caused by problems with the valves which control blood flow through the leg, and can be detected via an ultrasound scan even before becoming visibly apparent. If the veins are present then the treatment now offered is relatively minor when compared with the surgical stripping out which used to be the answer.
Modern treatments seal rather than remove the offending vein, using techniques such as EVLT Laser or, in the most advanced clinics, systems such as Clarivein. No matter the specifics, varicose veins can now be treated during a single appointment and the recovery period is virtually non-existent. Once treated, your legs will be free from the threat of unsightly blue veins and also released from the nightly torment of Restless Leg Syndrome.